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Vern Buchanan to get ad push from group with ties to John Boehner

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A conservative “action tank” with ties to House Speaker John Boehner is throwing its weight behind Sarasota-area U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. According to Sunshine State News, the American Action Network (AAN) announced Buchanan is one of 16 members of Congress it will be supporting through an advertising campaign.

Buchanan is the only Florida congressman to make the group’s list.

The ad campaign will be launched using mostly digital ads, but will include some TV spots. The ads will focus on “keeping America safe and in economic and fiscal responsibility.”

Boehner’s ex-chief of staff Barry Jackson sits on the board of AAN. Its president, Mike Shields, is the former chief of staff for the RNC under Reince Priebus.

Altogether the ad campaign will infuse $525,000 into ads supporting members of Congress they’ve targeted.

Support from the right-of-center group could cause problems for Buchanan among some of his party’s more conservative or Tea Party factions. The group recently launched another campaign attacking members of Congress who did not support Boehner’s Department of Homeland Security funding measure because it did not include a provision against the president’s executive action on immigration.

Another Florida lawmaker targeted in the ad is Boehner critic Ted Yoho.

Buchanan cruised to re-election in 2014. He’s rumored to be a possible pick for the U.S. Senate if Marco Rubio runs for president in 2016 instead of re-election in his South Florida seat.

According to, the AAN spent more than $8.7 million in the 2014 General Election. Nearly $5 million of that was spent on ads opposing candidates. Nearly $9 million was spent on campaigns against Democrats during that election cycle.

This latest round of funding for targeted campaigns supporting allies also includes three congressmen from Texas and two each from California, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Representatives from Oklahoma, New York, Michigan, South Dakota, North Carolina and Illinois are also on the list.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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